From the Scottish Episcopal Church’s website

Adapted from a report by Gavin Drake of Anglican Communion News Service

The Scottish Episcopal Church’s General Synod will consider amending the marriage canon to permit same-sex weddings in churches.

The proposed changes, which General Synod requested in 2015, would remove the definition of marriage in the first clause of the canon and add a new conscience clause to prevent clergy from being compelled to conduct same-sex weddings.

The current Canon, C31, states: “The Doctrine of this Church is that Marriage is a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman created by their mutual consent of heart, mind and will thereto, and is a holy and lifelong estate instituted of God.”

The proposed amendment to Canon C31 would replace that wording with a new clause which says: “In the light of the fact that there are differing understandings of the nature of marriage in this Church, no cleric of this Church shall be obliged to conduct any marriage against their conscience.”

The Synod is asked to give the proposed amendment a first reading, which requires a simple majority in each house of Synod. If approved, it would return to the Synod next year for a second reading. That would require a two-thirds majority in each house. In between first and second reading, diocesan synods have the opportunity to make their views known.

If the Synod declines to give the proposed changes a first reading, it will consider the first half of this counter-motion by the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney:

In the light of the recent Anglican Primates meeting we, the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church, wish to:

a) Support the Primates’ reaffirmation of the traditional doctrine of the church in upholding marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union.

b) And commit to making no decisions that could put the SEC’s relationship with the Anglican Communion at risk.

The church’s standing committee has agreed to put forward Clause A but has declined to put forward Part B.

“That is partly because the wording of the motion is too vague and ambiguous to be legally competent to put to the Synod,” secretary general John F Stuart said in a note to Synod members.

“The motion seeks to commit the Synod to taking no action that would put the Scottish Episcopal Church’s relationship with the Anglican Communion at risk. However, at the time of making a decision to take any action, General Synod would not necessarily be in a position to know whether any such prospective action would put the SEC’s relationship with the Anglican Communion at risk.

“Nor is the meaning of ‘at risk’ clear. Also, short of the usual canonical process, one General Synod cannot bind a future General Synod as to how it should or should not act,” he added. “In practice, it is for each Synod to decide for itself what decisions it wishes to make, in the light of whatever information is available to it at the time.”

Discussion on the issue will begin on the afternoon of June 9 when Synod members will debate a report on the Primates’ Gathering and Meeting that took place at Canterbury Cathedral in January and the Anglican Consultative Council’s 16th meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, in April.

The Rt. Rev. Gregor Duncan, Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway and acting convener of the provincial Faith and Order Board, will present a report detailing the proposed changes and explaining the process Synod will follow on the next day.

On the morning of June 10, the Synod will debate the first reading of the proposed changes. If the Synod gives the proposals a first reading, the shortened motion from the Aberdeen and Orkney diocese will not be debated.

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